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Breeding Your Own Mealworms for Live Food for Your Birds

Updated on February 18, 2024
Eileen Hughes profile image

Birds - love all sorts of birds whether they are in my aviary or flying naturally

Feeding birds Live Food - Mealworms

I first became interested in this subject when I bought some mealworms as food for my finches, and they loved them. I was told that it was easy to breed your own. So I decided to give it a go.

I bought a container of meal worms which you can keep in a refridgerator. When kept in a cool area they become dormant, then if taken out and allowed to warm up they begin to move. This fascinated me. You can also use mealworms to feeds lizards.

Mealworms can be a nourishing and nutritional form of food for many birds and some small lizards. I found that some of my small finches were not too keen on them at first until others showed them how it was done.

A Mature mealworm - great as a nourishing live food for breeding finches or lizards
A Mature mealworm - great as a nourishing live food for breeding finches or lizards
Select a medium size container similar to this and cut a hole in the top
Select a medium size container similar to this and cut a hole in the top

Requirements needed

You will need a plastic container with lid, approx 40x30x25 (do not use polystirine containers as they can eat through it,so I found out when saw worms crawling away).

Cut a square hole in the lid and place some fly wire over the hole to allow air in. Now using strong masking tape seal this onto the lid, so mealworms or beetles cannot escape.

2kg’s pollard or bran. (amounts depend on how many you want to breed)

2 or 3 slices of potato or carrot

Piece of hessian or newspaper

You will need to buy 2 small containers of meal worms. One to feed to your birds, and one to start your mealworm breeding, otherwise your birds will go hungry.

Setting up

Place the pollard or bran in base of plastic container. Then add your mealworms,

Place a piece of hessian (preferably the size of container) over the top. Now add some pieces of carrot or potato. Do not use too much as it could go mouldy, remove unused after two or three days, and replace with fresh. Seal and leave to breed.

Make sure the container is kept in a warm area especially during winter or they will not breed efficiently.

Depending on how many birds you have to feed you could have a couple of containers at different stages. This will insure that you won’t run out. If you do have too many, you can pack them in bran and place into small containers and keep in the fridge. You could even sell some.

After a while the worms will change and look like a grub or a pupae.  These pupae will then turn into beetles.  Once this happens, take the beetles out and put them into a fresh breeding container of bran and cover and add potato or carrot as before.   Otherwise they will eat the newly laid eggs.

Mature Beetle
Mature Beetle
A group of mature beetles
A group of mature beetles

New bred Mealworms

The beetles will lay their eggs and after a couple of weeks they will die. The eggs will then turn into small mealworms which starts the breeding process over again. It takes about three months to go through this whole breeding process from the egg to worm, into a beetle.

Protecting your breeding containers

Ants can become a pain during this time. They will get in, no matter how hard you try to keep them out.

Avoid this by placing 4 tins with water on the floor and stand the legs of a small table in the tins. Now stack your breeding containers on top. The ants cannot swim so will not be able to access them. A word of warning: make sure to keep the water topped up or you will be in trouble.

Other articles on Finches

How to Keep and Breed Finches

If you are interested in caring and breeding finches they sure would love some of these mealworms.

Bird Ailments and Varieties of Finches


© 2009 Eileen hughes


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